Propel Uses Tech to Help SNAP Recipients Stretch Benefits

by Alexina Cather, MPH

Part of the Food Tech and Social Entrepreneurship Series

What they do: Propel’s free, user-friendly app allows SNAP participants to manage their benefits, keep track of their transactions, and find nearby stores which accept SNAP.

How they do it: The Fresh EBT app is a modern financial tool that helps EBT cardholders stretch their benefits. Built by alumni of Facebook and Google, Fresh EBT incorporates best-in-class design to seamlessly offer EBT benefit management, grocery budgeting, and ways to save money – all in one free app. Fresh EBT is available in all 50 states and has been downloaded over a million times.

Official mission: “We build software for low-income Americans who are often overlooked by traditional tech innovation. Our current focus is food stamps, a $70 billion program that reaches 45 million Americans.”

Latest project: They are currently working on creating bank-like features for the app to help users budget their finances.

Major funding: Venture capital (Andreessen Horowitz, Omidyar Network, etc)

Interesting fact about how they are working to change the food system: The use of standard EBT cards requires SNAP participants to wait in hotlines and save receipts. Propel’s app streamlines this process, making food shopping for low-income Americans easier.

Origin story: Propel founder Jimmy Chen originally worked in Silicon Valley as a product manager for Facebook and Linkedin. During his fellowship at Blue Ridge Labs, a Brooklyn-based social impact incubator, he would see hundreds of people in line waiting to see a social worker. Realizing how few apps catered to low-income Americans, he began designing a solution to streamline the SNAP process.

How they make money: Businesses that want to reach low-income customers pay to advertise on the app.

Upcoming projects: They hope to expand the app to many government services, creating a more user-friendly safety net.

Target clients: SNAP participants, low-income users



Location: Brooklyn, New York

Core Programs: Fresh EBT App

Number of staff and/or volunteers: 1-10 employees

Areas served: USA (50 states)

Director: Jimmy Chen, CEO

Contact Information:


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